Time Traveler: Taking a Trip to the Age of Jackson

GRADES: 4, 8
DURATION: 3 to 4 sessions

  • Access to the TN 4 Me website


Have you ever imagined traveling back in time? If you travelled back over 170 years ago, what would 
Tennessee be like? When you stepped out, what would you see? Hear? Smell? In this lesson, your students will attempt this feat. Their time machine will be two fold. Their own imagination and the tn4me.org web site. Over the course of five days, students will open their class session by taking a trip back in time to the Age of Jackson. They will visit the web site and learn about one aspect of life. After reading a web article from this era, students will use the article as a creative writing prompt to write a time travel journal describing all the things they did. Each writing session should only take a portion of actual class time. At the end of five days, students will compile a travel journal and describe the week they had traveling back in time. 

Guiding Questions: 

  • How was life in Tennessee different during the Age of Jackson. What would life be like if you traveled back in time?

Objectives:  Students will 

  1. Build a framework for the many aspects of life during the Jacksonian Era.
  2. Contrast life in Tennessee during the 1830s and 1840s to the present day Tennessee.  
  3. Explore issues like slavery, Jacksonian policies, and daily life.


  • Compile a creative writing travel journal that describes life during the 1830s and 1840s in Tennessee. 


1.      In this lesson, imaginations will be required. Explain to your students that their computer desks have been changed into time machines, and that they will take a trip in their time machine.   Their time machine will be two fold-using their imagination and the Tn4me.org web site.   Over the next few days they will become time travelers to Tennessee, only the Tennessee that they will visit will be the Tennessee of the 1830s and 1840s.   They will explore the world of Tennessee over 170 years ago.   
2.      While on this trip, the students will develop a travel journal that describes the sights, sounds, people, and places they visited in Tennessee.
3.      During their visit to this distant time, your students will observe the world around them. Use questions like those that follow to guide their imagination and reading or use the hand out provided.
a.       What kind of transportation did they use?
b.      What did they eat? 
c.       What was it like to be rich?
d.      What is it like to be poor?
e.       What was school like?
f.        What about church?
g.       What kind of music did they listen to?
h.       Did you meet any famous figures on your trip?
4.      Over the course of five days, students will access the tn4me web site that pertains to the Age of Jackson. They will use the articles in this section to learn about life in Tennessee during this time. 
5.      Allow students to pick whatever topic they would like to read and learn about. For instance, if they would like to “visit” a school on their trip, then they should read the article entitled “Going to School” in the “Age of Jackson” section. 
6.      Each day they should visit a different article regarding the Age of Jackson and use what they have learned to write in their travel journal. 
7.      The topics they choose and the articles they read will serve as writing prompts for their imaginary time travel journal. 
8.      Ideas for places and people to visit?
Day 1: Visit a city in Tennessee. Read about Town Life (http://www.tn4me.org/article.cfm/a_id/178/minor_id/63/major_id/21/era_id/4)
As you walk down the streets of Nashville, what do you see? What were the streets like? Were they clean? What did you do when you had to go to the bathroom?
Day 2: Visit a plantation. Talk to an enslaved African American. Read about “Life as a Slave” What was their life like? Were the happy or unhappy about being a slave? 
Day 3: Go to school. Read about “Going to School” (http://www.tn4me.org/article.cfm/a_id/179/minor_id/63/major_id/21/era_id/4) What kind of subjects did you have to learn about? What did the building look like? Who were your classmates?
Day 4: Interview Andrew Jackson. Read about “Andrew Jackson” What questions did you ask him? (http://www.tn4me.org/minor_cat.cfm/minor_id/66/major_id/22/era_id/4)
Day 5: Visit anywhere you would like during the Age of Jackson. Describe it. Bring back “souvenirs” by printing off artifacts. Why did you choose that time and place?
9.      At the end of the five days, have students compile their travel journal. Encourage them to print out some “souvenirs” that they acquired while visiting the past. The souvenirs could be pictures or artifacts that they found particularly interesting while reading the articles on the web site. 
10. Allow them to illustrate their journal with drawings about this time period. 
11. Bind their travel journals with yarn and display them in class.
12. Highlight some of the most creative and descriptive journals or encourage students to present some of their favorite episodes from their journey. 


  • Tennessee Curriculum Standards
    4th Grade
    4.1.01 Understand the diversity of human cultures.
    4.1.02 Discuss cultures and human patterns of places and regions of the world.
    5.03 Recognize major events, people, and patterns in Tennessee.
    4.5.12 Identify major events, people, and patterns in Tennessee.
    a. Identify the impact of railroads on life in Tennessee including changes to cities
    and major industries.
    b. Identify the impact of various issues and events on life in Tennessee such as
    c. Identify the accomplishments of notable Tennessee individuals such as Sam
    Houston, Andrew Jackson and James Polk.
    4.5.tpi.5. design a picture book showing famous Tennesseans and describe their
     4.5.tpi.6. write a journal entry describing the hardships of early American history.
    8th Grade
    8.1.01 Understand the nature and complexity of culture.
    8.1.04 Describe the influence of science and technology on the development of culture
    through time.
    a. Identify specific technological innovations and their uses.
    8.4.tpi.3. use primary and secondary sources to list the rights, responsibilities, and
    privileges of a citizen living in a democratic society.
    8.5.07 Use historical information acquired from a variety of sources to develop critical
    sensitivities such as skepticism regarding attitudes, values, and behaviors of people in
    different historical contexts.
    a. Read and analyze a primary source document such as diaries, letters and
    8.5.08 Understand the social, cultural and political events that shaped African slavery in
    colonial America.
    5.14 Identify American territorial expansion efforts and its effects on relations
    with European powers and Native Americans.
     5.15 Discuss sectional differences brought on by the Western movement,
    expansion of slavery, and emerging industrialization.
  • Understands United States territorial expansion between 1801 and 1861, and how it affected relations with external powers and Native Americans
  • Understands how the industrial revolution, increasing immigration, the rapid expansion of slavery, and the westward movement changed the lives of Americans and led toward regional tensions
  • Understands the extension, restriction, and reorganization of political democracy after 1800
  • Understands the sources and character of cultural, religious, and social reform movements in the antebellum period